BUSINESS

Online property auctions attract interest from Russians, Chinese

NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Property

There is growing international interest in the acquisition of properties in Greece via online auction and other sales that local banks are resorting to in a bid to reduce their losses from nonperforming loans.

The low prices and the prospect of future capital gains, as well as the timing of Greece’s expected exit from the bailout program, have boosted the appeal of the local property market, not only in the eyes of foreign investment funds but also individual foreign investors from Russia and China.

George Kachmazov, chief executive officer of Russian real estate platform Tranio, told Bloomberg last week, “We aim to participate in Greek real estate e-auctions and to acquire properties directly from banks.”

He has already bought a building in Athens and is planning to purchase five more with the aim of reselling the apartments to foreign investors interested in obtaining a Greek residence permit through the Golden Visa program. Given that the country’s market prices have stabilized, buyers can look forward to capital gains thanks also to the growing tourism interest in Greece and the rise of short-term letting via home-sharing platforms.

Chinese investors are also eyeing Greece: Carrie Law, CEO of Chinese real estate website Juwai, told Bloomberg: “We have some buyers who are very interested in Greece’s e-auction process. They believe it will offer opportunities to purchase at the bottom of the market.”

According to Kachmazov, Greece’s low threshold for a Golden Visa is another advantage: In Greece, investors are required to spend at least 250,000 euros, while, for example, in Portugal, the figure is 500,000 euros (or 350,000 euros for properties older than 30 years).

The rise in demand from non-European Union citizens is reflected in data by online ad website Spitogatos: This year, searches for Greek property have soared from China (203 percent), Turkey (90 percent), Germany (68 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (50 percent).

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